PARIS: Publicis is looking to fast growth markets in Asia and Latin America and the development of digital marketing tools to improve its profitability.

The holding group, owner of Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, has announced a lower than anticipated second quarter sales increase of 2.7% to €1.41 billion, but plans to begin recuriting again and increase staff salaries following a two-year freeze.

Publicis embarked on an aggressive investment programme in emerging markets and digital services in the first half of the year.

Maurice Lévy, Publicis CEO, said: "Clearly, in order to accelerate our profitable development, we will need to give priority to investment and to talent.

"We're progressing according to plan with our ambitious goals for the BRIC markets."

According to Bloomberg, so far in 2011 Publicis has bought up more than a dozen companies and last month Levy confirmed he plans to invest at least €700 million in acquisitions this year. This is higher than the firm's original target of €500 million.

Publicis announced a 5.9% sales decline in North America, its largest region in terms of revenue. But the second quarter figures also showed Latin America as the firm's fastest growing region, with revenues increasing by 25% year on year following acquisitions in Brazil.

Europe, Africa and the Middle East also showed positive growth at 11% and Asia saw sales up 3.2%.

In June Publicis bought Chinese public relations company, Genedigi Group, to form the largest public relations network in the country. Publicis expects its business in China to double by 2013.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff